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Course Reserves / Reserves preparation for CUNY’s new LSP

The (CUNY Libraries’) Data Migration Task Force is now recommending that libraries work on cleaning up our existing Course Reserves / Reserves this summer. This should be done before we set up our Test LSP environment for our new LSP.

Rather than bring over what we know already will be a problem, it is better to correct those issues now. As a shorter-term benefit, your Course Reserves during the coming year will be in generally better shape.

We will be bringing over our existing Aleph Course Reserves records into our Test LSP environment (by this coming fall). Each library will have the opportunity to assess how well the catalog data migrated from our Production Aleph into our Test LSP environment, and prepare for our eventual go live. When we bring Course Reserves data over to our LIVE Production LSP environment, we will be bringing over the records from our Test LSP environment.

This will allow libraries at least 10 months to decide whether to:

  • Clear out these records, and completely start over fresh, or
  • Make any needed corrections and prepare their Course Reserves

There are known issues in the data migration into the new LSP. Other libraries that have gone before CUNY have found the problems serious enough that the majority recommend not migrating any Course Reserves. Some libraries have reported that their Course Reserves records migrated without problems, but describe having done careful maintenance prior to migration.

Course reserves will work differently in the new LSP, and uses a very different data structure. Migrating / translating our Aleph data over to this new environment will be directly affected by how well in order our existing Course Reserves records are.

Aleph Item Process Status: New Book

The Aleph Item Process Status (IPS) in Aleph is sometimes misunderstood, as it is sometimes (but not always) more than a display field. The functionality built into some of the IPS is complex, so it will probably be best to approach them separately. Today, let’s please take a look at NB New Book.

NB New Book is not used by every CUNY library in the same way. Items with this IPS will need to be considered by each library regularly using it.

There are some common aspects to NB. Items marked with IPS ‘NB’ are not CLICS eligible. Some libraries have said that they preferred to offer new books first to patrons of their own library. In the new LSP, if these items are part of a collection that is CLICS requestable, then these ‘New Books’ would also become requestable in the new LSP.

It would be a good idea to look at how your library is using the Item Process Statuses of ‘NB’ currently in Aleph, and to create some documentation about what your library is looking to achieve. We would then want to use the built in functionality in the next system to accomplish the same thing.

For example, some libraries are using NB status to identify a specific set of materials as being part of a special or separate group. In effect, they are using the IPS of New Book to create something like a collection. (At one CUNY library, many of their items labeled as NB are in fact older books.)

In the next system it would be useful to have these items identified as an unique (permanent) collection. Using a temporary location of ‘New Books’ (for items that are only considered new books for a few months at most) makes sense — IF the books are really only temporarily considered to be ‘new books’. However, it the items are to be considered ‘New Books’ for an indeterminate amount of time, then it is better to use a permanent location (also setting 852 $c) for a new book collection.

Not every library at CUNY is using NB in a way that is supported by the built in Aleph functionality. Since Aleph remains relatively static and unchanging between upgrades, one can get by with a kludge. The new LSP will not be static as there will be ongoing releases over time. We will likely have to pay a little closer attention to how the new software is designed to work, or risk being caught off guard.

The reason to not use a temporary collection location for all Aleph Item Process Statuses is that some IPS are very much more than just a display field. There is software functionality tied to the Item Process Status. We will not want to lose that functionality in Aleph, nor would want to lose that functionality when we move these items to the new LSP. For example, we would specifically not want to use a temporary collection location for misplaced (missing, searching, lost, etc) items.

Discussion of Item Process Status opens a whole new area of discussion, investigation, and this will be part of the work done by the Data Migration Task Force. (Details about the various Migration working groups are just beginning to be discussed in Committee meetings. Please see your Committee Reps for more details.) We will be talking more about IPS over the coming year.

Sync your Collections with your Circulation Policy

We will need to think about how Collections relate to circulation policies at your library. Circulation under the Library Service Platform will be driven by Collection codes. So, the next phase will involve syncing Circulation (Aleph) Item Status for items within the same collection.

This is less of a concern for items of different material types. One can make exceptions based on material types. However, if you have items of the same material type (eg books) then you may want to review what is in place.

The Aleph report XX_cltn_count provides overall counts of items by sub-library, collection, item status, and by material type. This report will run four times per year so that it is always in Task Manager. (Other listings of a specific collection can be requested by work order.)

For example, a library has a collection with some books that have an initial loan period of three days, along with books that have an initial loan period of 7 days. Maybe it would be better to have a ‘reserves 3 day’ collection and a separate ‘reserves 7 day’ collection. (Some libraries already make this distinction.) Alternately, a library might eliminate one of those initial loan periods. Maybe that collection rarely circulates books for a ‘3 day’ loan?

EDIT: Please look at the June 2018 Cataloging Committee meeting minutes for a more detailed explanation.

Pre-planning for Aleph Catalog migration

We have begun early planning for our Aleph migration. At the most recent Cataloging Committee meeting, I had asked libraries to begin reviewing their Collection codes. (Ideally, I request that this be done in the first half of 2018.)

The purpose is take into account more recent initiatives and planning. For most libraries, everything may be fine just as it is. For some libraries, it will be helpful to re-visit their selection of collection codes.

For example, the ‘X’ collection codes for textbooks was something that was useful in the past. It was set up in part to facilitate statistics to compare textbook circulation across CUNY libraries.

Some CUNY libraries have already begun to move away from these ‘X’ codes. The utility for comparison is not as useful as it once was.

One CUNY library already moved their ‘retired’ textbooks into a single ‘old textbooks’ collection. (The books are no longer in Reserves.) They are now circulating these older editions in a new way, with more liberal lending policies for their campus’s students.

Last month another library decided to consolidate 14 collection codes into four existing collection codes. The below chart illustrates this change. (A third library reduced these codes down to two existing codes.) Certainly this reduces complication / error, and makes their circulation statistics more manageable for their staff.

Collection codes to be retired New / Existing Collection code
X3REF, X4REF, X5REF REF
X3RES, X4RES, X5RES RESE
X3RET, X4RET, X5RET, TEXTI RETX
X3STA, X4STA, X5STA, STACI STACK

Serials order record clean up

Libraries are now working on clean-up of Serials order records. An open serials record not attached to a Bibliographic record is not going to have a clear purpose when we eventually migrate. It is also unclear today for staff working in Aleph.

At one library (just before Thanksgiving 2017), we found 262 open serials orders. Of those, 154 orders are not attached to a Bibliographic record. The order creation dates range from 1994 to 2008. Setting those orders aside, this leaves 108 orders (41%) attached to a Bibliographic record where there is a clear journal title.

Now, we know that those ‘unattached’ orders were not all for budget transactions. We do not know which are the ones still being used as a dummy record.

For an order used for ordering / budget transactions purposes having an attached Bib record (with STA=SUPPRESSED) provides better identification. Since it is a suppressed record, never to be displayed to patrons. It would be more direct and maintainable to keep track of how the orders are intended to be used. Anytime staff look at a record to figure something out, people will want to naturally look at the title.

Consider the purely hypothetical record, with

STA	SUPPRESSED
245	Ebsco Melbourne Scholars Package

Without knowing anything else about this example, you already know what the record’s purpose is.

Also, the Bibliographic record should have a brief holdings and item record. The Item record should be set to Item Process Status = NA (not arrived), SU (suppressed), WD (withdrawn), or CA (Order Canceled). These are the Item Process Statuses that will result in the ‘Title’ being suppressed from patron view.

WD might be a good idea if you do not want the record to be migrated, but this would also depend on how you weed Bibliographic records that have these statuses. It will have an implication depending on which software we use to replace Aleph. If you do not weed by IPS, then it frees your hand in choosing an appropriate IPS.

Orders being closed should be marked as Order Status = ‘CLS,’ Invoice Status as ‘Complete,’ and depending on the type of order as ‘Arrived.’ One would also want to look at any related Subscription records. (No reason to show items as still being expected then they are not.)

Please contact OLS for help with specific questions.

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